August 15, 2002

August 15, 2002 | News Releases on Middle East

Analyst Urges Independent Inquiry Into Where EU'S Palestinian Aid Goes

WASHINGTON, AUG. 14, 2002 - In light of its "overwhelming anti-Israeli bias" and credible allegations that the aid it gives the Palestinian Authority (PA) has funded Palestinian terrorism, the European Union cannot be considered an honest broker of the peace in the Middle East crisis, says a new paper from The Heritage Foundation.

Indeed, the Bush administration should press for an independent investigation into whether EU aid has been misused-and call on European leaders to halt direct funding for the Palestinian Authority until elections have been held and a leadership change has occurred, says Nile Gardiner, a visiting fellow in Anglo-American security policy at Heritage.

The EU gave the Palestinian Authority $3.36 billion between 1994 and 2000, a report from London's Financial Times shows. The Europeans continue to give the PA 10 million euros per month, and the European Commission recently decided to award 260,000 euros for legal aid to Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli detention centers. Meanwhile, Europeans have "turned a blind eye to corruption, misrule, torture and numerous human rights violations by Mr. Arafat's security forces," the Times says.

Israeli officials, citing captured Palestinian documents, have alleged that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was "personally involved in the planning and execution of terror attacks" because he used money donated from other countries to pay gunmen and the families of suicide bombers deployed by the Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. After a lengthy investigation, the German newspaper Die Zeit also found substantial links between EU money and Palestinian terrorism. "The gullibility, naiveté and forbearance of the Europeans seems unending," the newspaper concluded.

The EU claims the International Monetary Fund verified that the money it gave Arafat has been spent appropriately; the IMF responded that it does not monitor or control EU payments to the Palestinians. All the European Commission could say after an internal investigation is that "the documents presented to us by Israel do not prove EU funds have been misused."

But there's no disputing the fact that the EU has voiced virulent anti-Israeli sentiment recently, Gardiner says, with many European leaders equating the terrorist actions of Palestinian militants with legitimate measures taken by the Israeli Defense Force. "The Europeans apparently want to project power in a region where they believe their diplomatic and economic influences rival that of the United States," he says. "This stems from a desire on their part to challenge U.S. military, economic and diplomatic hegemony."

For the most part, this opposition for opposition's sake does not include Great Britain, Gardiner says. Despite the protests of some backbenchers from the liberal wing of his own Labor Party, Prime Minister Tony Blair has begun to prepare his country to join with the United States should it attack Iraq.

In the near-term, Gardiner says, the EU's financial and rhetorical embrace of the PA against Israel means it can't be considered an honest broker in peace negotiations. In the longer term, he says, it means the United States must make clear to the EU it won't wait till the crisis in Israel ends to deal with Iraq, that it won't waver in its support for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and that, if the EU truly supports peace, it should withdraw its financial support for Arafat and his cronies and curb its anti-Israeli rhetoric.


#46-02: McNICOLL

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